Saturday, August 29, 2020

Different look at news, a century past


Hard type imprints more pressing news

By Rob Carrigan, robcarrigan1@gmail.com

When I think about it, I am amazed at how hardened folks have become on the press and their reportage these days. Modern, "mainstream" media gets blamed for manipulation, being manipulated, sensationalism, reporting nothing but bad news, not minding their own business, and seeing the world with a jaundiced eye.  Jeez! I wonder what they would thought of the news a century ago?

Severe headaches

"Passengers on the Short Line reaching here at 1:20 yesterday afternoon did not know how near they came to being without an engineer during the latter part of the trip, and for a few minutes the engineer was about in the same fix," reported the Cripple Creek Times, Aug. 8, 1907.

"Billy O'Connor, one of the best known engineers on the associated roads, was handing the throttle and while in the vicinity of St. Peter's Dome he was bending far out the cab window while the train was rounding the curve at a fair rate of speed, when his head suddenly came into contact with a protruding rock," according to the Times report.

"The force of the blow was fortunately not sufficient to knock him out the window, but for a few moments, the engineer was badly dazed. He soon recovered himself, however, and after bringing his train into this city, walked to a doctor's office where several stitches were found necesary to repair his scalp which was quite severely lacerated."

Questionable sources

And then with a "Special" dateline from Telluride, in the same paper:

"What is supposed to be the skeleton of W.J. Barney, the timberman on the Smuggler-Union, who disappeared in June of 1901, and has never been seen or heard of since, was exhumed this afternoon near the Alta Mill, 12 miles from this city, by Bulkaley Wells, adjutant general of the National Guard of Colorado and manager of the Smuggler-Union at the time Barney disappeared," reported the paper.

"The body was found in improvised grave and according to reports, the place was located through information given by Steve Adams, now awaiting a second trial in Idaho for the killing of two men in the northern part of the state, in the confession which he made about a year ago, and subsequently repudiated. It is said that an attempt was made to find a body last year but there was snow on the ground at the time, and the place could not be located."

Official reports

Interestingly enough, that was not all the news for Aug. 8, 1907.

"Fire partially destroys Golden Cycle Mill," reads the the top head, above the fold.

"In an official statement made to the Times last night by the management, it was declared that the loss by fire to the Golden Cycle Mill is not more than 40 percent of the total; that work of rebuilding will begin immediately and the mill will be in full operation within six months."

Maybe, folks understood then, that it is difficult to make chicken soup with nothing but a few bouillon cubes.  Or maybe, they were better at reading between the lines.

 






Sunday, August 23, 2020

CSU's Trial Garden helps meet Rocky Mountain plant growing challenge

 

 

“The misfortune of a young man who returns to his native land after years away is that he finds his native land foreign; whereas the lands he left behind remain for ever like a mirage in his mind.
However, misfortune can itself sow seeds of creativity.

 ― Brian Aldiss, Hothouse

 

Ideas for garden growth in an uncertain state

By Rob Carrigan, robcarrigan1@gmail.com

Like the blooming flowers, bees and butterflies, the land has always been there. It is you, who must return.  As a native, every year now, even if just driving by in late summer and early fall, I appreciate the fragrance, and pageantry — the show of colors — on College Avenue in Fort Collins, on the grounds of what was once the Fort Collins High School.

"The outdoor display and test areas at the Annual Flower Trial Garden were established to allow students, researchers, industry representatives, homeowners and extension personnel to learn, teach and evaluate through horticultural research and demonstration projects conducted in the unique environmental conditions of the Rocky Mountain/High Plains region," says Annual Flower Trial Garden site.

The garden is open every day, at no cost to those who wish to visit.  And as any native gardener can attest, sharing ideas and getting plants to survive here, can be a challenge that takes creativity.

"Methods of gardening in this moderate Western region are a strange mixture of gardening practices at best. (Mysticism and luck, at worst.) Mostly, you will have to use what I call 'common sense gardening,' says Herb Gundell, in his "Complete Guide to Rocky Mountain Gardening."

"We cannot depend very much on the weather, on the the seasons or the soils of the Rocky Mountain territory, so don't let any weather changes take you by surprise. All have to be treated with savvy and measure of suspicion," says Gundell.

"The entire garden is planted with annuals from late May through October. Pansies are planted in the fall and are on display through early spring. The perennial trials are displayed year round across the street in front of the Center for the Arts," according to Trial Garden information.

The W. D. Holley Plant Environmental Research Center (PERC), located at 630 W. Lake Street on the Colorado State University campus, has been a part of CSU since 1971. In 1992, Dr. James E. Klett began his role as Director of PERC and became the Faculty Coordinator for the trial program. David Staats also joined the department around this time as a Horticulture Research Associate. Together Klett and Staats conduct all of the activities and staff required to produce a beautiful garden and successful trial program each year.  

 

"The Pansy Trial program was initiated in 2003 to evaluate the capability of various Pansy and Viola varieties to overwinter in the Northern Colorado climate. The trial is also considered to be a Cool-season Crop Overwintering Trial, as we have trialed other genera, such as Delphinium and Dianthus, in the past. The relatively new Perennial Trial was initiated in the fall of 2006 at the request of our advisory committee. The intention of this trial is to test only newer perennial cultivars introduced in the past three years or less," according to the Trials site.

"Year after year, the number of participants in the trial and the number of entries in the trial grew, leading to the demand for more and more space. In 2000, the Annual Flower Trial Garden was moved from its site at PERC to the park on Remington Street that is just across from the newly remodeled CSU Center for Arts, which was the old Fort Collins High School building. 

The relocation of the garden to this more spacious and visible site furthered its mission by more effectively extending education, research and outreach to students, home gardeners, Master Gardeners, community members and Green Industry personnel. The 2.9 acre park features an additional 5,000 square feet of bedding plant space, resulting in 20,000 total square feet of bed space available for planting. 














Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Riding the storm out in Colorado

 

Winter forecast from an informed, rank amateur  

By Rob Carrigan, rob.carrigan1@gmail.com 

It is time for my winter weather forecast. You are going to say, “Too early,” or something like “Killjoy,” but I like to still be in my shorts while making prognostications about open automobile ski season here on the Divide. I have been caught before. Ski Monument Hill. 

After all, I was still in my shorts in October, almost 20 years ago, the day before one of the worst storms in this area in human memory. In Palmer Lake, the storm that began Friday afternoon, Oct. 24, and snowed almost non-stop until Sunday morning Oct. 26, dropped a recorded 52 inches in Palmer Lake, with drifts of 15 feet. 

Monument was not far behind with 48 inches recorded, and Woodland Park’s and Colorado Spring’s two feet, each, made it difficult to get around. 

“The scope and length of blizzard conditions proved fatal for several eastern Coloradans. Three people in El Paso county perished from carbon monoxide poisoning after waiting for help to come in their snowbound vehicles for over 24 hours. Another person froze to death in a vehicle on post at Fort Carson in the Colorado Springs area. An elderly women in Otero County tried to walk home after her vehicle became stuck in open country. She froze to death. A man in Bent county froze to death in open country while hunting, or looking for other hunters. Another man died in a vehicle accident in Pueblo during the blizzard Friday night,” reported the National Weather Service (NOAA) in Pueblo. 

 “Many people were injured during the blizzard. Two people were injured in Colorado Springs when a canopy at a gas station collapsed under the weight of deep snow on top. Another canopy at a gas station in Lamar collapsed, but no one was injured. A vehicle was destroyed, though,” NOAA said. 

“Thousands of people were stranded in eastern Colorado, and hundreds had to be rescued from their snowbound vehicles. By Saturday, the Governor declared a State of Emergency. Emergency traffic only was allowed on eastern Colorado roadways. Rescues were made by the U.S. Army in Humvees and by helicopter, the National Guard, law enforcement, other public resources, and private citizens. The combination of high wind and heavy snow caused power lines to come down,” they reported. 

For hundreds of years, folks have had trouble pegging the weather here on the Divide. Partly because of the way the Orographic lift works for regions along the Palmer Divide, much as it does in all the mountains on the Continental Divide, just on a smaller (but surprising scale.) “One of the things that makes Colorado weather so interesting is the effect our terrain has on the weather. 

You often hear TV Meteorologists say the mountains are getting hammered with snow while we have a warm, dry, windy day down in Denver and along the front range. This all stems from Orographic Lift… the less nerdy/technical term for this is ‘upslope’ or ‘upslope flow.’ 

"As moisture laden air streams in from the West and is forced to rise over the mountains, it eventually cools and becomes saturated, causing rain or snow to fall. As the air moves over the mountains and down the leeward side it warms and drys out. This is a common pattern we see with Colorado storms moving in from the West all the time, but the same effect happens for cities along the Palmer Divide,” says Castle Rock stormchaser and meteorologist John R. Braddock, at Mountain Wave Weather. 

The Palmer Divide, or Palmer Ridge, of course is the elevated section of land composed of bluffs and ridges and the rising terrain sloping up from Castle Rock south toward Larkspur, with continuing elevation rise, finally peaking at Monument Hill. 

“It separates the Arkansas and Missouri River Basins in Eastern Colorado and roughly runs from its Western point in Palmer Lake, East roughly 80 miles to near Limon. The uplifting of the terrain in these areas causes the weather to behave differently, in fact storms can behave considerably differently from Denver to Castle Rock or Denver to Colorado Springs,” says Braddock. 

But what about this year, you ask? I am no expert, but I suggest you watch for slow-moving storms out of New Mexico. Winds moving backwards on the clock, or southeasterly, have trapped some mean storms against the Palmer Divide in my experience, sometimes for days. Albuquerque Low, I think they call it. I also pay attention to the long range forecasts from the Old Farmer’s Almanac. After all, you can’t survive since 1792, and be wrong consistently. 

Here is what they say for our upcoming weather. 

"Winter will be milder than normal in the north and colder than normal in the south, with slightly above-normal precipitation. The coldest periods will be in mid-December and early January and from late January into mid-February. Snowfall will be above normal in the north and below normal in the south, with the snowiest periods in early January, early to mid-February, and early March. April and May will be cooler than normal, with precipitation mostly above normal. Summer temps will be above normal in the north and below normal in the south, with the hottest spells in late June, mid- and late July, and mid-August. It will be drier than normal. September and October will have above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation."

The High Plains long range weather region includes all or part of the following states: COLORADO (Aurora, Colorado Springs, Denver, Fort Collins, Lakewood), KANSAS (Dodge City, Garden City, Liberal), MONTANA (Billings, Great Falls), NEBRASKA (Kearney, Lexington, North Platte, Scottsbluff), NEW MEXICO (Clovis, Portales), NORTH DAKOTA (Bismarck, Dickinson, Mandan, Minot, Williston), OKLAHOMA (Guymon), SOUTH DAKOTA (Pierre, Rapid City), TEXAS (Amarillo, Borger, Dumas, Hereford, Pampa), WYOMING (Casper, Cheyenne, Gillette, Sheridan).

 Storms over the years in Southeastern Colorado, and the Pikes Peak Region, compiled by the National Weather Service in Pueblo, are as follows:


1904 August 7 ...A flash flood north of Pueblo washed a train from the tracks, killing 89 passengers. Flood waters had weakened a bridge, which gave way under the weight of the train. 

1913 December 3-5 ... The granddaddy of blizzards reached from Cheyenne, Wyoming to Trinidad, Colorado with snow, and wind gusts to 50 mph. Snow drifts reached to the eaves on houses, and were as high as the tops of trolley cars. Numerous trains stalled at different locations in eastern Colorado due to the heavy snowfall. 

1921 June 3..Heavy rainfall causes flooding of the Arkansas river through Pueblo. Bridges and buildings washed out, many are homeless and many died in the deluge as the river reaches record levels as it roars through the city. A high water mark of the river can be seen on the Union Station depot. Estimated property damage and loss is $25 million dollars. 

1921 April 16... Spring storm reached from Colorado Springs to Castle Rock, dropping 15 to 20 inches of snow while Pueblo received less than 3 inches of snow. Cars and snow plows were stalled in the city, while numerous trains were stranded on their tracks across Eastern Colorado. 

1923 July 15...Thunderstorms and heavy rainfall causes flooding in Cripple Creek and Cripple Creek canyon. Damage estimated at 30 thousand dollars in Cripple Creek alone. 1932 June 11...Tornado touches down in Colorado Springs from 16th to 20th streets and as far south as Cucharras street. One person killed. 

1934 to 1937...The Dust Bowl years for Colorado and the midwest. Numerous farmers and cattlemen put out of business. Blowing dirt and dust over the region closed roads and made moving around and breathing hard. Many aircraft were grounded due to blowing dust, and radio communication was nearly impossible. 

1935 May 31.. Memorial Day flood on Monument Creek in Colorado Springs kills 18 people and washes away bridges and buildings in downtown. 

1949 May 15...Heavy afternoon thunderstorms and rainfall caused a landslide in Ute pass, sending about 400 tons of rock and mud down on highway 24. 

1955 May 18...Flooding on the Purgatoire river cuts Trinidad in half. Most bridges were washed out in the city, and 4 feet of water filled downtown Main St. Damage was estimated to be over 2 million dollars. This same flood also struck La Junta, doing extensive damage and forced many people from their homes. 

1965 June 15... First of 15 days of rain, causing flooding on Monument and Fountain Creeks. Several bridges, and part of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo are washed out. A tornado and flooding developed over Palmer Lake where residents had been evacuated to Colorado Springs 

1966 July 3...A tornado moves through the Victor business district, damaging a garage, the Masonic Lodge building and a Baptist church. 

1977 March 19...Colorado Springs receives 13.4 inches of snow with winds gusting to 52 mph. East of the city, 82 mph winds were reported. The worst of the storm was from Colorado Springs to Limon. Army helicopters and half- tracks were used to recue stranded people. Five known dead, and $4 million in property loss and damage. 

1977 April 11...A tornado hits a Mobile Home Park on Astrozon Boulevard. Several homes were damaged but no deaths or injuries. 

1979 June 25... Manitou Springs hit by a tornado, uprooting trees downtown and took a roof off a service station. No deaths and only 1 person injured. Damage estimated to be close to 1 million dollars. 

1981 June 24...Thirty five acres of trees were leveled in Pike National Forest (North of Woodland Park) by a tornado. 

1982 December 24...Snow started falling in the early morning on Christmas Eve and continued until sunrise Christmas Day. Winds gusting to 45 mph kept visibility near zero most of the day. Snow plows were unable to keep up with the storm until the 25th, as snow drifts of 6 to 10 feet were common. Pueblo only received 2 inches of snow from the storm. 

1984 October 15-16...The BRONCO blizzard. Storm started while the Bronco's were playing on national TV. Denver received 1 to 3 feet of snow; only 15 inches in Colorado Springs and 1.4 inches at Pueblo. Winds gusted to 55 mph shutting down I-25 from Denver to Colorado Springs, and numerous flights in/out of Colorado Springs and Denver were canceled due to blowing and drifting snow. 

1987 January 15...Winter storm system arrives late on the 14th covering the area from Colorado Springs to Pueblo, and the surrounding area. Snowfall totals include: Colorado Springs 22 inches; Rye 42 inches; Colorado City 20 inches; Pueblo 9 inches; Canon City 10 inches. 

1990 February 21...Snow, fog and ice cause a 30 car demolition derby on I-25 from north of Colorado Springs to 4 miles north of Monument. No serious injuries, but the road was closed for several hours to clear up the mess. 

1990 May 29...A month's worth of rain and a foot of hail fall in a 3 hour period in Colorado Springs causing flash flooding. Cars stalled in up to 3 feet of water. 1990 June 6..Tornado's rip through Limon, destroying most of downtown including city hall, fire and police departments. Another tornado strikes Rush in eastern El Paso county. 

1990 July 11...Costliest hailstorm to date reaches from Colorado Springs to Denver, and causes over $600 million damage. 

1991 November 16-17...Winter storm arrives and leaves 16.6 inches on snow in Colorado Springs, 12.8 inches at Pueblo and 5.7 inches in Alamosa. Winds gusted to 50 mph at times. 1995 May 18..Three inches of rain in Colorado Springs causes flooding in the city while 18 inches of snow falls at Woodland Park. Heavy rain also causes a landslide closing highway 24 in Ute pass. Golf ball sized hail was noted at Falcon and Peyton, east of Colorado Springs. 

1995 June 22...Tornado damages 5 homes at Meadow Lakes Estates, east of Colorado Springs. 1996 July 27..Thunderstorms with heavy rain flood streets and basements as over 3 inches of rain fall over Colorado Springs. Flood waters are 3 feet deep in parts of the city. 

1997 June 7...Thunderstorms with heavy rain and hail cause 4 mud and rock slides closing highway 24 in Ute Pass, and much flooding in Manitou Springs. 

1997 October 14...Weather of all kinds over southeast Colorado. Tornado's in the southeast corner of the state. Thunder- storms and heavy rain in Pueblo and to the west of the city. Hailstones 2 3/4 inches at La Junta with softball size hail at Las Animas, snow at Cripple Creek, Black Forest and Monument. Winds of 100 mph reported at Liberty Point in Pueblo West and 98 mph at Kim in southeast Colorado. 

1997 October 24-26...Heavy snowfall over Monument and Palmer Lake with 52 inches of snow with 15 foot drifts in Palmer Lake, 48 inches of snow with 6 to 10 foot drifts in Monument. 

1997 November 29...Blizzard conditions force the closing of I-25 south of Pueblo as 27 inches of snow falls at Walsenburg. North of Pueblo, 19 inches of snow fell at Divide, 18 inches in Cripple Creek and 12 inches at Woodland Park. 

1998 June 24...Strong wind around the region damages many new homes under construction, and takes roofs off many other homes Winds blew over a semi-trailer on highway 115 to Canon City. Gusts to 80 mph at the Air Force Academy, 91 mph in Ute Pass and 96 mph at the Colorado Springs country club. 

1998 July 10...Severe thunderstorms moved over Colorado Springs starting grass fires, and a small funnel cloud tore a hole in the roof at Henry Elementary School. The school was closed at the time. 

1999 April 28-May 1...Strong thunderstorms roll across Colorado Springs, dropping 5 inches of rain at the airport, with up to 10 inches along the foothills. Heavy rainfall eroded the ground around a bridge at 21st St and Highway 24, causing it to be closed. Heavy rain and runoff in Fountain Creek resulted in the river being 6 feet above normal, and doing much damage along the river banks south of Colorado Springs. Many people homeless due to the flooding, and many more without power due to the storms. 

1999 July 30...Thunderstorms dump 3 to 4 inches of rain over Colorado Springs and El Paso county, causing street and basement flooding and forced cancellation of the county fair for the day. A group of teen-agers were stranded while hiking in Waldo Canyon. 

1999 November 21... An evening snowstorm drops 8 inches of snow at Monument, 10 inches in Manitou Springs, 17 inches at Green Mountains Falls before moving on. 

1999 December 3 ... Lots of snow and some records fall. Cuchara receives a record breaking 61.25 inches of snow, 32.4 inches at Rye, 10 inches of snow in the Black Forest and Woodland Park, 16 inches at Beulah as winds gust to 45 mph and higher in some areas. 

 

Photo Information:

Top: Blizzard of 1913 in downtown Monument.

Middle: Flood of 1921 in Pueblo.

Bottom: Colorado Springs area in a 1980 storm.

 

Saturday, August 15, 2020

End of the line for RGS

Pulling up tracks of long-gone road

“All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho 

 “The only way of catching a train I have ever discovered is to miss the train before.”
G.K. Chesterton 

D&RGW K-27 #461 assisting with scrapping operations, circa. 1952. Photo by Charlie Wunder, of Denver

 By Rob Carrigan, robcarrigan1@gmail.com

 Of course, there is a great sadness, when you have to pull the tracks up.

Despite difficult terrain, extreme weather conditions, and a trainload of financial difficulties, the Rio Grande Southern (RGS) Railroad operated 162 miles of track between Ridgway and Durango from legendary Otto Mear’s construction efforts, beginning in 1890, until they went into receivership again and started pulling up track in 1953. 

Friday, November 30, 1951:
In a dispatch from Hart Lee to Dolores Star (best of Hart's Stuff from Rico, 1968)

"Monday morning we went down to the depot to see the last train pull out for Ridgway. Old 461 hooked to the drag flanger and a couple of cabooses made up the train. The crew was J.C. Phillips, H. Walford, Jimmie Cooper and Alvin Talbert. The last train south will be sometime this week to pick up what empties that are in the yard, then after that — well the old girl died a natural death, so far as we know. The first transportation we had back 1869 was foot and horseback, then the bull teams and stage coaches. Then in 1881 we had old Puffen Jennie, not it's cars and trucks. Be a heck of a note if we finally get back to bull teams again, but it could happen."

Friday, December 7, 1951:

In another dispatch from Hart Lee to Dolores Star (best of Hart's Stuff from Rico, 1968).

"We've been talking about the last train going to leave the old burg for the last three weeks, well it happened last Thursday when old No. 20, coupled to thirty-three empties pulled out of the the yards at 12:10 p.m. for Dolores. The crew was Geo. McLean, Lee Lynton, Mike Smith, and Go. Thomas."
 
RGS built seven motors and one additional short-lived vehicle for the San Christobal Railroad on the Denver & Rio Grande Western (D&RGW) Lake City branch. The term “Motor” was officially used by the RGS, although by 1944, the term “Galloping Goose” was used locally.

The Galloping Geese were car-train hybrids that ran on the Rio Grande Southern Railroad (RGS) between 1931 to 1952. They traveled the narrow gauge rails carrying freight, mail and passengers from Durango to Ridgway, Colorado with a spur to Telluride. Built to lower the operating costs of the railroad, they kept the RGS going for an additional 20 years.
The Rio Grande Southern Railroad built by Mears in 1890-91 to haul ore from the mines in the San Juan. The silver crash of 1893 hurt the railroad and Mears lost control when it was forced into court-ordered receivership.

The railroad remained in business, but went into receivership again when the stock market crashed in 1929. To save money, Victor A. Miller, the new receiver; Forest White, RGS superintendent; and Jack Odenbaugh, the master mechanic, designed the Galloping Goose. A prototype was on the rails by 1931 and the first Goose went into service in 1933.

When toll road builder Otto Mears finally abandoned the idea of a railroad going all the way through from Durango to Ouray, over Red Mountain Pass, in the form of the Silverton Railroad, he was just about eight miles short.  Locating Engineer Charles Wingate Gibbs and Mears managed to build the Silverton Rail Road on through to Ironton, which made it within eight miles of Ouray, but the remaining stretch through the Uncompahgre Gorge was considered too difficult, despite the efforts and engineering feats that had been already accomplished. A Cog-style road was briefly considered,  and even a spiraling tunnel, but the two ideas never made it off the drawing boards.

"Plan B" came in the form of the Rio Grande Southern, with incorporation in 1889. Construction began that year from both Ridgway and Durango. By the end of 1890, before the line was complete, the RGS was already servicing mining companies in Telluride and west of Durango.  The entire line was completed on December 12, 1891, when the two construction teams met south of Rico. 

The first year and a half qualified it as a "Bonanza Line." Then the RGS was booming, making lots of money for the company and investors, and producing higher than the average pay for RGS Employees. Unfortunately, it quickly went from generating more than enough money for the investors, and covering costs spent to build the railroad, with Silver Panic of 1893 which resulted in most of the mines the railroad serviced closing overnight 

The Railroad's headquarters and where the main facilities were in Ridgway, the Railroad traversed Northwest to Dallas Divide, on to the southwest  heading down to Placerville. It turned south toward Telluride following the San Miguel River, to what was called Vance Junction (west of Telluride), where one of two coal topples were located. Then continued southeast, curving around up the side of Yellow Mountain to Ophir  with the help of numerous, large trestle bridges then looped around to the southwest and continued up the side of Yellow Mountain to Trout lake, curving around it to the Summit of Lizard Head Pass. Then to the southeast, meeting the Dolores River and looping around into the town of Rico. 

Rico was considered the center of the Railroad and had some notable engine facilities. From Rico, it followed the Dolores River west into the town of Dolores, where it then curved southeast into Lost Canyon. It followed Lost Creek, and eventually exited the canyon to make its way directly south into Mancos, it traversed east following the East Mancos Creek up Mancos Hill, and then down Cima Hill to Hesperus. Then it curved south, passing by Ute Junction, the second coal topple on the line. It then looped back around the east, near what was then Fort Lewis campus, after which it headed northeast into Wild Cat Canyon. In the canyon, it passed by the townsite of Porter and the site of the Porter Coal mine, making its way north to Franklin Junction. It then curved east and finally ended close to the San Juan Smelter in Durango,  where it met up with the D&RGW's San Juan Extension.

The RGS finally threw in the towel and filed with the Interstate Commerce Comission for abandonment on April 24th, 1952, after 60 years of operation. The RGS had lost the contract to ship US mail after failing to clear snow to deliver during the winter of 1951-2. This contract was the very last profitable aspect of the RGS hence why it was the final straw after the railroad's history of financial trouble. 

Scrapping operations started after the request for abandonment was approved in April and was completed by March 21st, 1953. Remaining operational equipment such as RGS C-17 #42 on the south end of the line and D&RGW K-27m #461 on the north end as well as various Geese were used to salvage the rails and other parts of the railroad that were removed.

Most of the RGS equipment had been abandoned, sold, or scrapped, and we are fortunate to have the amount remaining today (see remains below). The RGS had many locomotives regardless of whether they were leased or owned, but many were eventually cannibalized for parts that went to similar locomotives of the same class and then scrapped. The RGS was always having financial issues and was usually more than willing to sell worn out or excess locomotives and rolling stock hardware to the scrappers to stay afloat. The D&RGW had to preform similar practices during the great depression, causing many typical classes of RGS and D&RG locomotives to almost go extinct.

 The RGS closed down in 1951 and was dismantled in 1952-3, but there are still remnants of the long-gone railroad today.



Rio Grande Southern narrow gauge caboose number 0409
Creator(s) : Richardson, Robert W.
Summary: Three-quarter, close view; relettered for movie "Ticket to Tomahawk." Photographed: Rico, Colorado, November 17, 1951.
Notes: Title from inventory prepared by Western History Department, Denver Public Library.; R7004007818
Physical Description 1 photonegative ; 7 x 11 cm. (2 3/4 x 4 1/2 in.)
Western History/Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library.




Rio Grande Southern narrow gauge locomotive, engine number 20, engine type 4-6-0
Creator(s): Richardson, Robert W.
Summary Distant head on view, at station. Photographed: Rico, Colorado, May 23, 1951.
Notes: Title from inventory prepared by Western History Department, Denver Public Library.; R7004000109
Physical Description: 1 photonegative ; 7 x 11 cm. (2 3/4 x 4 1/2 in.)
Western History/Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library.


Rio Grande Southern narrow gauge locomotive, engine number 20, engine type 4-6-0
Creator(s): Richardson, Robert W.
Summary Left side view of engine; 2-car freight train. Photographed: between Rico and Montelores, Colorado, May 23, 1951.
Notes: Title from inventory prepared by Western History Department, Denver Public Library.; R7004001692
Physical Description 1 photonegative ; 7 x 11 cm. (2 3/4 x 4 1/2 in.)
Western History/Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library.

Rio Grande Southern Railroad track removal near Burns Canyon: (above Dolores, Rico, Colo.)







Near Mile Post 63: A crew apparently is working on removing the first section of track at the lowest
washout of track above Dolores when the Rio Grande Southern was being abandoned and scrapped. The location apparently is Burns Canyon, a narrow rocky area just south of bridge 64-A, which both the track and the Dolores River twisted through on an S curve. According to Robert Herronen (analyst, UNCG MIS department; builder, Rio Grande Southern R.R. of N.C.; and alumnus, Fort Lewis College, 1993), who supplied this info via emails on 3/26 and 3/28/2007, "The RGS received word from the courts that it could be abandoned April 24, 1952. The RGS began to dismantle the trackage starting in May of 1952, it appears.
 
"Scrapping was done June 17, 1953." He believes this view is"around milepost 70. Below MP. 70, there are photos of Goose 7 scrapping the tracks. So it was a section that they could not use the steam train to scrap the railroad. That would explain why they were scrapping up the side of Lizard Head pass by October. They had Rico to scrap (at MP 66.2) and by October two outfit cars had run away and were left where they ran off the tracks at Coke Ovens (at MP 60.49)."
 
He explained, "The other sections between the washouts were removed using the Galloping Geese engines with their box bodies removed. [That way, the work crews] could truck them around the washouts and tear up the track between the washed out tracks.
They used the K-27 class locomotive #461 with a winch mounted on the tender to pull the rails up onto the flat car as they went along (the winch was not installed by the time the time these photos were taken.) "
 
 
 
Rio Grande Southern Railroad track removal near Burns Canyon
(above Dolores, Colo. (actually Rico)
Date/circa: 1952/1953
 
Photographer Notes: Near Mile Post 63. A crew apparently is working on removing the first section of track at the lowest washout of track above Dolores when the Rio Grande Southern was being abandoned and scrapped. The location apparently is Burns Canyon, a narrow rocky area just south of bridge 64-A, which both the track and the Dolores River twisted through on an S curve. According to Robert Herronen (analyst, UNCG MIS department; builder, Rio Grande Southern R.R. of N.C.; and alumnus, Fort Lewis College, 1993), who supplied this info via emails on 3/26 and 3/28/2007, "The RGS received word from the courts that it could be abandoned April 24th, 1952. The RGS began to dismantle the trackage starting in May of 1952 it appears. Scrapping was done June 17, 1953." He believes this view is "around milepost 70. Below MP. 70, there are photos of Goose 7 scrapping the tracks. So it was a section that they could not use the steam train to scrap the railroad. That would explain why they were scrapping up the side of Lizard Head pass by October. They had Rico to scrap (at MP 66.2) and by October two outfit cars had run away and were left where they ran off the tracks at Coke Ovens (at MP 60.49)." 
 
He explained, "The other sections between the washouts were removed using the Galloping Geese engines with their box bodies removed. [That way, the work crews] could truck them around the washouts and tear up the track between the washed out tracks. They used the K-27 class locomotive #461 with a winch mounted on the tender to pull the rails up onto the flat car as they went along (the winch was not installed by the time the time these photos were taken.)"
___ Center of Southwest Studies,Fort Lewis College.
 
As a kid growing up in Dolores, I noticed the town had marks of the railroad all over it. But Dolores in the 1970s had been separated from the rails just long enough to have an identity crisis, but not long enough to forget where it came from.
 
The main highway in and out was called “Railroad Avenue.” Various buildings around town were labeled with left-over monikers such as the ‘track warehouse’ or the D&RG Southern Hotel.
Corrugated tin, painted Denver & Rio Grande yellow, covered the outside of dozens of other buildings, and platforms, built to service freight from boxcars, still appeared in front of about a third of the businesses in town.
 
The boarded-up section house still stood between the Sixth and Seventh Street out on the highway.
Legions of cub scouts were still able to gather rail spikes, track hardware and telegraph insulators from the rotting ties and weathered poles in Lost Canyon and pack them over across the rusting Fourth Street Bridge back into Dolores. They would end up in a coffee can in someone’s garage or as tent stakes, or sold for scrap at Curt’s Trading Post.

“In 1889 plans were made by Otto Mears for a railroad running through and around the western flanks of the San Juan Mountains from Ridgway in the north to Durango in the south,” according to the Mountain Studies Institute. “The railroad would tap the riches accumulating in the booming mountain mining towns of Telluride and Rico and the smaller mining camps between the two towns. The 162-mile railroad would, as well, link two segments of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad coming into Durango from the east and into Ouray from the north. The new railroad would be known as the Rio Grande Southern.”
 
But as we all know, it is important to be near where the action is.
 
The fledgling settlement of Big Bend, which had been located nearly two miles downriver from present-day Dolores since 1878, basically pulled up stakes and moved to where the rails from Durango entered the Dolores River Valley.
 
“In 1890 two Big Bend businessmen laid out the town site of Dolores at the mouth of Lost Canyon. The rest of the citizen’s of Big Bend soon followed. By the time the tracks reached Dolores on Thanksgiving Day, 1891, the community of Big Bend was no more,” according to Mountain Studies Institute. 
 
Born as a product of the rails, for 60 years Dolores lived in the shadow of the line, finally waving goodbye from the platform in 1951 when D&RG Southern closed and most of the track was pulled up and sold for scrap.
 

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Dolores connection to the movie industry?

Still looking for a Dolores Star

 
By Rob Carrigan, robcarrigan1@gmail.com
 
For years now, I have been wondering if there was any kind of connection to Del Rio Hotel in Dolores, Colorado, and the early film industry. I have heard of visits there by Clara Bow and perhaps others, but was also intrigued by the name itself, as Dolores Del Rio was one of the top starlets of the 1920s. 
 
Dolores del Río (Spanish pronunciation: [doˈloɾez ðel ˈrio]; born María de los Dolores Asúnsolo López-Negrete; August 3, 1904 – April 11, 1983) was a Mexican actress who was the first major female Latin American crossover star in Hollywood, (with a career in American films in the 1920s and 1930s. She was also considered one of the more important female figures of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema in the 1940s and 1950s. Del Río is remembered as one of the most beautiful faces of the cinema in her time. Her long and varied career, nearly 50 years, spanned silent film, sound film, television, stage and radio.


With director John Ford doing a lot of work in Monument Valley in the 1930s and other possible connections of the film industry, I've always speculated that some sort of link was possible. 
 
A long time ago, I asked longtime Dolores resident Mary Ann Findley and relative of hotel builder Billie Brumley, if the family knew of any connection.
 
"Do you know if there was any sort of hook from Billie Brumley lore to the film industry? Thanks for any help, or pointing me in the right direction."
  
"Oh Rob, how I wish my Dad were still alive. I know they made a movie in the area in the 20's. I'm sure you have seen the old newspaper stories on that. I have no idea why Uncle Billie named it the Del Rio. It could have had something to do with that. I know he traveled a lot to California in those days and may have been intrigued with the film industry. He was quite a businessman," Findley said.
 
The record provides, that while visiting the set of The Searchers in Monument Valley later, Dolores Del Rio has lunch with John Wayne and director John Ford in 1956.
 
 
 
The Duke made five movies in Monument Valley in his lifetime, “Stagecoach” (1939), “Fort Apache” (1948), “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” (1949), “Rio Grande” (1950), and “The Searchers” (1956). In 1921, Harry Goulding and his young bride Leone (nicknamed Mike) purchased 640 acres next to Monument Valley. They spent their first years trading with the Navajo people out of their tent. 
 
In 1928, the Gouldings completed construction of an old stone trading post with an apartment in the upstairs. The building has been converted over to a museum where you can see photographs and memorabilia during the Gouldings stay. In this photo, John Wayne and John Ford share a meal there with actress Dolores Del Rio at Gouldings.

In late 1928, Hollywood was concerned with the conversion to sound films. On 29 March, at Mary Pickford's bungalow, United Artists brought together Pickford, del Río, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, Norma Talmadge, Gloria Swanson, John Barrymore, and D.W. Griffith to speak on the radio show The Dodge Brothers Hour to prove they could meet the challenge of talking movies. Del Río surprised the audience by singing "Ramona" proving to be an actress with skills for sound cinema.

Fairbanks, "The King of Hollywood," of course, learned the trade in Denver.
Silent film star Douglas Fairbanks began acting at an early age, in amateur theatre in Denver, performing in summer stock at the Elitch Gardens Theatre, and other productions sponsored by Margaret Fealy, who ran an acting school for young people in Denver, at the time.
Though he started high school at Denver East High School, he was expelled for cutting the wires on the school piano.

Though widely considered as one of the biggest stars in Hollywood during the 1910s and1920s, Fairbanks' career rapidly declined with the advent of the "talkies."
"Swashbuckled in Zorro, duelled exuberantly in Robin Hood, and soared magnificently in The Thief of Bagdad, " wrote Pamela Hutchinson recently for The Guardian, he often described as one of Hollywood’s founding fathers. In 1919, together with his best friend Charlie Chaplin, his bride-to-be Mary Pickford, and director D.W. Griffith, he started the United Artists studio, which is still, despite some recent uncertainties, a Hollywood player.

Dolores Del Río was also considered one of the more important female figures of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema in the 1940s and 1950s. Del Río is remembered as one of the most beautiful faces of the cinema in her time. Her long and varied career (over 50 years) spanned silent film, sound film, television, stage and radio.

According to the stories, and personal knowledge of the building as a kid growing up in Dolores, the big hotel included a ballroom and large restaurant that served famous guests such as silent film star Clara Bow, passing through town. Abandoned after a fire, the hotel was partially restored in the early 2000s, only to see the developer run afoul of complex local regulations and abandon the project.

View of the Del Rio Hotel in Dolores (Montezuma County), Colorado. The three-story Chateau-style hotel has a stucco surface, a steep gabled roof, dormer windows, a corner entrance, and large windows on the first floor. Men stand on the sidewalk near scaffolding and construction equipment. A sign on a building next door reads: "Stroud's Cash Store, Groceries, Dry Goods, Meats."



Handwritten on envelope: "C-Dolores-Hotels."; Penciled on verso: "Built April, 1931."